Whether submitting your cover letter and resume for a job or applying for something else, such as graduate school, it’s important for college students to word their cover letters in ways that make it easy for the recipient to read, makes sense, and conveys what it is that needs to be conveyed.
One of the biggest mistakes college students make when writing cover letters is forgetting that the people that will be reading that letter are human beings as well. Thus, the letter needs to be as easy to read as possible, and it needs to let the recipient know as quickly as possible if they need to continue reading or whether or not there is any good reason to look at the resume.
This might sound contrary to what many cover letter writers think they should be doing, since after all, the job of the cover letter is supposed to sell you to someone else. While that might be true, it’s also true that you should only be sending your cover letter and resume to places where what you have is what they are looking for. There is nothing you can put in a cover letter or on your resume that will convince anyone to accept you into whatever program you are looking for or to hire you, if you’re not qualified. Yes, of course there are some few exceptions, but those exceptions generally come about for good reason, not because the reader was hoodwinked or manipulated into reading more of the letter or resume.
Bottom line: The easier you make your letter to read and follow the easier you will make the job of the person reading your letter, and that is the purpose after all, of writing someone a letter, right?
If you believe you are truly qualified for a program or job or whatever else, put that down in a clear and concise fashion. That’s all the reader wants to know. Don’t give them a reason to toss your letter or resume in the trash.
The next thing is, after your reader has been shown that they are reading a letter from someone that fits with what is being offered to those who qualify; tell your reader just enough about you to give them some confidence that you are normal, reasonable person who would fit in with most other people or organizations. That’s really the only other thing people in a position to hire or accept into programs want to know.
In short, show them two things: That you are qualified and that you will fit in and ultimately succeed if they accept or hire you.